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Whether measuring and repairing rail faults, surveying the railway from above, clearing snow, or transporting materials, we have machines for the job.

Our fleet teams are based at strategic locations around the country, according to the tasks they do, so they’re ready to get to work on the railway when needed.

For High Output we have seven operations bases and five delivery depots. Derbyshire is home to our infrastructure monitoring trains. There are 24 seasonal treatment fleet bases, from Scotland to the South East, and we have a dedicated plant maintenance centre.

Sometimes we own the machines we use, sometimes suppliers provide them for our work programmes, and at other times we work with suppliers to adapt vehicles to suit our needs.

Machines and specialist trains

Looking after the railway presents many challenges. Here are some of the types of work we do where the machines we use are invaluable:

  • infrastructure monitoring – from trains that use ultrasound to find faults within the rails, to those that monitor and record track geometry (our New Measurement Train or NMT)
  • maintaining and renewing the tracks
  • transporting materials such as ballast and rails for our work – this includes our rail delivery train, on-track plant delivery team, and aggregates wagons
  • maintaining and installing overhead line equipment
  • inspecting and clearing drainage
  • maintenance support (such as our mobile maintenance train, or MMT – our ‘workshop on wheels’)
  • testing ECTMS/in-cab signalling for the Digital Railway.

Did you know?

  • Our fleet teams have 24/7, 365-day access to a helpline to support moving them around the network, helping to manage when incidents occur, as well as to report the critical information directly across the network including each Route Operating Control.
  • Measuring almost one kilometre, our High Output ballast cleaner is the longest train on our network.
  • We own around 1,000 wagons – these mainly carry aggregates such as ballast and remove waste from work sites. They’re typically hauled by locomotives owned by freight operating companies (FOC), but some are part of High Output convoys instead. Among our wagons, there are box wagons to remove waste; autoballaster wagons with ‘trap doors’ at the base that release ballast directly beneath, onto the track; and tilting wagons to position switches and crossings during track renewal work.
  • Our rail delivery train carries 108m rails from where they are manufactured, at the British Steel plant in Scunthorpe, to be welded into 216m lengths at our long welded rail depot in Eastleigh, Hampshire. Around 50 per cent of our rails from Scunthorpe go here, but the other 50 per cent are welded on site to be used for High Output track renewals.
  • Not all our fleet teams use machines that run on rails. Our Air Operations team makes use of a helicopter and unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs, or drones). We also have on-track plant that can travel on the roads as well as the railway. Examples include diggers, vehicles to inspect and clear drainage, mobile flashbutt welders (to weld the rails), track movers (which pick up and move track), and some of the vehicles we use to inspect and renew overhead wires.

Our machines and vehicles

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